May 26, 2011 in Washington Voices

Mission trips inspire student to become physician

Jennifer Larue
Jesse Tinsley photoBuy this photo

Michael Wilkinson is the notable graduate from Upper Columbia Academy, the Seventh-Day Adventist school set in rural Spangle. He recently returned from a mission trip to Africa and wants to be a doctor.
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Michael Wilkinson recently went on a mission trip to Africa. He stayed in a tent, traveled to villages, helped build a school out of bricks, and shared how Jesus Christ has positively affected his life. Wilkinson, an inspiring and outstanding 17-year-old senior at Upper Columbia Academy, believes in seeing the bigger picture and is driven to succeed and spread the gospel.

The concept of seeing the bigger picture is not often grasped by teenagers today. “For many, it’s all about instant gratification,” he said. “True happiness is putting effort into something that counts or, even further, benefits or helps someone else in some way.” To Wilkinson, fun and entertainment is temporary but helping others can last a lifetime. “It hurts to think about all the greed we have when there are people who need our skills and our help,” he said, “Sharing hope to even the simplest-living people who do not know where their next meal will come from can be life changing.”

While many people learn of places outside of their own surroundings from what they see on television, Wilkinson has experienced first-hand how others live. Born in California, Wilkinson moved with his family to Zimbabwe when he was 3. They lived there for six years. While his father worked as an orthodontist, Wilkinson collected memories. “Living in the mission field was an experience I will never forget. My childhood has thousands of memories from living overseas,” he said.

Wilkinson is in his fourth year at Upper Columbia in Spangle. His grades are good, his attendance is perfect, and he leads by example, serving as a resident assistant in the men’s dormitory, senior class chaplain, senior president and chaplain for boys club, a dorm club that holds events throughout the year. He also takes every opportunity he can to share the benefits of letting Jesus Christ lead the way.

For fun, Wilkinson enjoys golf, playing basketball and anything having to do with water including swimming, water skiing, and snorkeling. He also considers school work fun and fascinating. He plans on pursuing a degree in biology from Walla Walla University and then onto Loma Linda University. He wants to become a physician and use his talents and abilities to do mission work in Africa.

His hero is Dr. Ben Carson, who grew up in the slums of Detroit and became the chief resident of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Wilkinson believes that “if people discover the benefits and positive attributes of putting others first, they will experience true happiness.”

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